I’ll star with the only good things that has happened in my football life since the last installment of “Odds & Ends”: the USMNT took 4 of 6 points from its two most recent World Cup 2014 qualifying matches. The first, in the snow in Denver, was a win that came through a bit of luck and the sense- after scoring- to not try to do too much. It worked. The second, in the never-friendly confines of Azteca Stadium, was the kind of “professional” performance that gives me hope for Jurgen Klinsmann’s charges. The team needed a “result,” away from home, and against the best team in the tournament- and they got it. Just as important as the point the USMNT earned, was the fact that it meant that there were 3 points that Mexico didn’t earn and El Tri are now up against it as the hexagonal moves on.
The New England Revolution has also played twice during this period and…ugh. I attended the home opener with KCGunner and it was an absolute farce. Sporting KC were hampered by having two of their best players on USMNT duty and the Revolution were hampered by being, well, the Revolution. Luckily, the weather hampered both sides and most of the 90 minutes was occupied by watching players on both sides chasing down windblown passes. A goal or two would have been nice, but 0-0 at least secured a point for both sides and that’s probably no more or less than either deserved. And then there was today, where the once again punchless Revolution looked to have limped to another point until they reverted to 2012 form and gave up an 87″ goal to Dallas. Four matches into the season and the Revs are in second to last place in the East. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was…
Ross County lost to Kilmarnock today, 1-o. Disappointing, but a win against Hearts in their next match will guarantee a top six finish this year. County don’t play Hearts until April 6 and there are several matches (and results) that could mean that County could make the top six even without a win.
And then there is Scotland. Eliminated from qualification for World Cup 2014 on the back of losses to Wales and Serbia. Eliminated from the competition while nations like Andorra and San Marino remain alive. If they are “minnows,” what is Scotland? As if that were not enough, injury was added to insult when Scotland’s best striker, Steven Fletcher, was stretchered off 2 minutes into the match against Croatia with a season ending ankle injury. There were a few bright spots in the matches- Grant Hanley, George Boyd, and Liam Bridcutt all showed potential- but the fact remains that manager Gordon Strachan is probably going to have to take a torch to the whole SNT set-up if there is any hope that Scotland can do any better when qualification begins for EURO 2016 in September 2014. That may seem too soon for a complete turn around, but really, what other choice is there?